POLICE and council bosses have hit back at Colchester MP Will Quince who said residents have “had enough”, citing a perceived rise in crime and aggressive begging in the town.

Mr Quince also revealed he told Colchester district commander Shaun Kane that “things have got out of hand and enough is enough”.

In a seemingly pointed reply, Essex Police chief constable Stephen Kavanagh, wrote: “Thank you for your letter, which I first saw on Twitter.

“I welcome the open nature of this debate, which matters to both of us and of course the people of Colchester.”

In his letter, Mr Kavanagh told the Conservative MP: “Essex Police is working harder than ever to investigate crime, support victims and deter and disrupt this behaviour.

"However, no one can expect anything other than the police must respond first to those incidents where the threat... is highest.

“You are right that a council tax precept increase will secure 150 new police officers in Essex including 12 more in Colchester over the next year.

"By the end of 2018, we will be back to over 3,000 police officers across the force and I am instructing my finance teams to work at risk of in-year overspend to make sure we continue to recruit.

“But we are doing that for a reason and that reason is because we have had to cope with 600 fewer officers and 300 PCSOs than in 2010.

"For every police force in the country those cuts have had, and continue to have, consequences.”

Colchester Council leader Mark Cory also publicly responded, writing: “I am saddened and disappointed by your public statements regarding this issue.

"It would appear you have taken important information, given to you in confidence and good faith, and used it for political advantage.

“In this instance, the chief executive of Colchester Borough Council gave you a private briefing, in which he outlined the council’s investment into policing teams and the joint action plan on town centre criminality.

“During the private briefing, you were made aware of our pro-active stance on supporting the police.

“Before we, or Essex Police, were able to officially announce the operations and processes put in place, you have jumped the gun and taken it upon yourself to announce the new policy.”

He added: “These are not the actions I have come to expect from you as Colchester’s MP and [we] will now be forced to carefully consider in the future what briefings we are able to give you, should a confidential or sensitive issue arise.

"I do not believe your actions are hypocritical; as you say, you have lobbied government on police funding, and I appreciate this.

"However, there are wider issues that contribute to crime, and sadly you have supported austerity measures under this Conservative Government that have led to real terms cuts in policing, education, welfare benefits and local public services, which contribute to this.

"The Alliance running Colchester Borough Council, under my leadership, have listened to calls from residents and businesses about police presence and criminal activity.

"We have gone above and beyond to put in substantial funds to ensure an increased police presence and to ensure other community policing strategies are properly funded and implemented. I am pleased you support this."

The leader added: "I hope we can overcome these issues and rebuild a relationship of trust between Colchester Borough Council, its partners and the MP in the future.

"We must put the people of Colchester borough first, especially on matters of policing and community safety.

"I am doing that. I would like us to work together on this for the benefit of our residents."